Seattle Chinese Times EditorialOur ancestors built the railroad. Our forefathers were interrogated tirelessly on Angel Island. Our grandparents forced to trade in businesses for internment camps. As a first generation immigrant, I draw no family relation to any of those events.

 

Seattle Chinese Times EditorialOur ancestors built the railroad. Our forefathers were interrogated tirelessly on Angel Island. Our grandparents forced to trade in businesses for internment camps. As a first generation immigrant, I draw no family relation to any of those events.

But years of silent struggle bear meaning, as they allow us to help America today without institutional restrictions. Those came before us built communities for their children, as we should do for our own. Like the immigrants before us, we face challenges and they are overcome in true American spirit.

According to Bureau of Labor and Statistics data, Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) held the lowest unemployment rate before the recession, and it still holds true as economy recovers – at 5.5% in April 2012 compared to 7.4% for whites.

It is common knowledge that statistics hardly presents a whole picture, as a deeper look reveals that unemployment rate ranges from 4.3% to 10.4% when divided into subgroups. So what of those caught in between? AAPI, as a whole, has the highest rate of long-term unemployment (longer than 6 months).

Take all those numbers, and then throw in education level. A recently published study on unemployment pattern between 2007 and 2010 by Economic Policy Institute finds that Asian Americans with a Bachelor’s degree or higher are likelier than all other race group to be affected by long-term unemployment. One may interpret these figures as AAPI being “unfairly disadvantaged” as the name of the study suggests, or read further into it and contribute it all to a lack of tech and science jobs in California as geographical data is also mentioned.

In practice, none of these offers a close enough look to what is actually happening. Are we working in small businesses operated, owned, and patronized by Asians? Or are we putting our efforts into mainstream corporations?

These portray a deeper problem within our society. The truth is that we are still perpetually alienated. If we do not fit neatly into our given segment of the job market, then we hardly have a place. Look no further than our most recent hero Jeremy Lin, whose skills and talent remained hidden behind his yellow skin and black hair for most of his career up to this point.

The month of May is AAPI Heritage month and President Obama’s proclamation further recognizes our continual progress. But troubles remain neglected in plain sight as we confine ourselves to self-erected barriers from the rest of the society. So let our youths take on basketball and American football, silver screens and theater stages, podiums and courthouses; and be a common sight as we should be in all areas of American life.

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